Monday, December 16, 2013

Pressing Forward in Nantou

Here is Sister Fernley's latest message:

Dear Family,
I don't really know how to start this email. Not a lot has happened this week. We have continued to meet with the less actives we want to focus on and working with our recent converts. We have met with a few investigators but we don't have many who are progressing or who have much interest at the moment.
We did meet with the Chen family this Tuesday and taught them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was actually the one to extend the baptismal commitment! They didn't accept, but its because brother Chen is the oldest son so he has a lot of responsibilities in bai bai (the ritual they do with incense to their ancestors). They have thought of being baptized before and becoming Christian but they are afraid of their families reactions. Even though they didn't accept we were still pretty excited. Their reaction shows that they take baptism seriously. They believe in Christ and Heavenly Father so strongly and accept the principles of the gospel so readily. We hope as we continue to work with them that a way will be provided for them to accept baptism and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
We also had the opportunity to meet again with Liao jiemei (the girl who came up to us on the street and said she believed in Christ). We had shared a scripture with her and she needed help finding it in her Bible so she met us at the church. We ended up teaching most of the Plan of Salvation and she accepted it so readily. The more we talked the more excited she got. We even gave her a Book of Mormon and she was so excited to have more scriptures to read. Because she knew almost nothing about Christianity beforehand she has no preconceptions. She can see our message for the truth that it is and accepts it so readily. We hope that someday we will be able to teach her formally and that her family will be open to her accepting the gospel.
This week during english class a lady came to the church and self contacted us. I was teaching, but Sister Anderson talked to her and she is doing her thesis for her Master's degree and is doing it on Chinese as a second language and the Mormon missionaries. She said she has just always seen the missionaries and has been curious about us, but when she tried to find material to do her thesis she could find almost nothing. So she decided that someone should write about it. We met with her twice and just answered her questions and bore testimony with every fiber of our being. It was an incredible experience. She asked us a lot about our days and what challenges we face as missionaries. As we talked I realized that there are so many and that it really is such a hard thing. It sounds a lot harder when you talk about it. She asked us how we keep going and I have been thinking about that a lot lately.
We come across so much rejection and experience so much emotional, physical, mental and spiritual stress, but we press forward. One factor is that we literally don't have time to focus on ourselves. We don't have time for self pity or to forget our trials for a little bit. We are expected and called to preach this gospel and are expected to use our time wisely for the Lord. But we also press forward in faith. We press forward in hope and joy in this gospel. We keep going because we know that we can find those people who are prepared to hear this message. We were talking about it the other day and we wake up every day and wonder how we can get up and endure through another day, and every night we crawl into bed and wonder  how we made it through the day. Its incredible what we can do with the Lord on our side. I know without a doubt that the Lord is with us in this work. Because of Him I press forward in faith and in happiness. He allows us to see so many miracles and strengthens us when we are too blind to see them. I haven't been out for very long, but I know my work is for the Lord, and even though its hard, its not a hard decision to press forward. Because we have His strength and a knowledge of what the message can do for the lives of these people.
That was pretty deep...haha...but that interview experience made me think a lot about that. I realized how much strength I have received and that we can all receive through Christ and this gospel. It is the most joyful message and can bring us happiness we never knew was possible.
That's about all that happened. We continue to tract and bike, and bike and bike (literally up mountains). I'm going to be in the best shape of my life when I get home. This week we have been practicing singing for the ward's Christmas activity this weekend, we hope it ends up being a good experience for all who come. Sister Anderson got her Christmas package from her family and they sent a little Christmas tree with ornaments which we now have sitting on our desk. Sister Anderson convinced me to try stinky tofu again. It's still gross.
Oh...the less active family we have been working with came to church yesterday! We actually got all seven of our recent converts at church this week. It was a miracle and we didn't care that our other numbers were so low after that. It was incredible!
I loved the pictures this week! Poor Jemma, she did look so cute in her costume, but I'm sorry she didn't have fun at the recital. At least now we know that she doesn't enjoy that very much. Its good to try a lot of things and find what you like. The pictures of her dancing in her room cracked me up. They are so awesome! Also the gingerbread kits looked like they were fun, it looked so cute!
Dad talked about the weather and comparing it to Taiwan. A lot of the time we question whether it is even December. Today feels like a perfect spring day back home. I'm really grateful that I only have one summer here though. I hear it is so hot and miserable to bike everywhere. I think I am going to miss the snow though. Jemma can play extra long in the snow for me :).
Thanks for sending some makeup I asked for. Sorry that it was such a pain to find. I actually was just at Smiths and decided to try something different that the Light was just there. I do have a light medium too though and its fine. I look forward to getting your package! Anything you send, even letters, are treasures. It's so exciting when you get something in the mail. Speaking of which Brother Asay send me a letter this week with a check to help me send something home or get something for our investigators. I can't do anything with the check here so I'm going to send it home so you can deposit it. Please tell him thank you for me! I am constantly amazed at the kindness and selflessness of the people we live among. They are all incredible examples to me!
Dad was telling me that your home teaching message this month was on eternal families. My testimony of the Plan of Salvation and eternal families has been strengthened so much! It is such a great blessing to have that knowledge. My Grandma Swensen actually passed away a couple of days ago. Its sad for a moment, but because we know of God's plan we can have hope. We can have joy in knowing that this life is not the end, and that we can be together forever. I'm so grateful for that knowledge! Family is so important and is eternal. We can have eternal happiness together as families. It truly is a beautiful thing!
I sent some letters last Monday, I don't know if they will get to you in time for Christmas. I wrote Jemma a little note, but maybe get something for her from me. I hope this Christmas is a good Christmas for everyone! I can't wait to talk to you! I think we are going to try and Skype you around seven Christmas Eve night for you. Is that okay? Let me know and remind me of your Skype information. I might end up using someone elses, but we are going to try and sign me up for one. Just so you know here is what President has told us about calls home.
Christmas phone calls are almost here! Please note the following guidelines:
- You are allowed to call or ‘Skype’ anytime on either December 25 or 26. If you need to use another day, please obtain permission from me.
- Your calls should not exceed 45 minutes. If your parents are divorced or separated, you may talk with each parent for 30 minutes.
- Please do not call anyone other than your parents unless you have obtained permission from me.
- You are allowed to use member’s computers in their homes in order to Skype. Do not linger on computers to play games or look at inappropriate things. Remember that members are always watching you to see if you are PMG missionaries. Do not let them down!
- In all that you do and say, seek to uplift your family and bear witness of the Savior. Let them see the ways in which your mission experience has changed you. 
I'm almost out of time, but I love you all! I'm so grateful that I have this opportunity to serve the Lord and that I can do His work during this holiday season. Give Jemma a giant hug and maybe some hickles for me! And drink tons of hot chocolate, eat candy canes and listen to a million Christmas songs! I thank Heavenly Father every day for you and that I have a family I love so much and who I know loves and supports me. You all are the best!

(Sister Fernley also sent these pictures of some of our family's favorite "exotic" treats--what a fun find!)

No comments:

Post a Comment